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Special Issue Call for Paper: Semantics of Mental Health

Health Informatics Journal


Mental health is an increasingly important problem in healthcare. Based on the data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness, and nearly 1 in 25 adults lives with a serious mental illness in the United States. Especially, the annual suicide rate in the U.S. has continued to climb over the past several decades and suicide is the 10th leading causes of death in the U.S. The economic impact of suicidal behavior has been estimated to exceed more than $51 billion annually in the U.S.

In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs), leading to an unprecedented expansion in the availability of dense longitudinal datasets for clinical and translational research for psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing, huge archive of consumer data in social media such as Twitter and Facebook also provides unprecedented opportunities to access a broad population with the mental health issues and suicidal behavior. The real-time information flow on social media makes it possible to monitor and provide early interventions to potential at-risk users, which is imperative for suicide prevention. Therefore, it is very important to extract risk factors, phenotyping information, and human behaviors automatically from EHRs and social media data. Moreover, the extracted information needs to be formally represented in an ontological semantic framework for further applications and reasoning. However, psychiatric information often shows unique characteristics, such as subjective descriptions of patient experience and idiosyncratic psychosocial backgrounds, leading to challenges of data sparseness and diversity. Novel natural language processing and ontology technologies are needed to address the challenges.

The goal of this special issue is to publish original research of innovative analytical methods, applications, and tools addressing problems in mental health, from experts in the field of natural language processing, knowledge representation, knowledge management, and health data analytics.

Submission to workshop of MentalHealth 2018

The manuscripts are also welcomed to the workshop of MentalHealth 2018 (pending), which will be published in the IEEE ICHI 2018 Proceedings (in IEEE Xplore Digital Library); Selected FULL/SHORT papers will be invited to publish an extended version in the supplement of Health Informatics Journal. Selected high-quality SHORT papers will also be invited to submit an extended version of the journal supplement for consideration.

Note: If a paper is selected for possible journal publication, the authors will be asked to shorten their workshop paper to be published in the ICHI 2018 Proceedings and then submit the journal version after the workshop. The authors can still choose to publish their full papers in the conference proceedings, in which case, however, the authors will NOT be eligible to publish in the journal supplement due to the journal's self-plagiarism concern.


Topics of interest include but not limited to:

  • Natural language processing
    • Information extraction and retrieval
    • Text mining
    • Linguistic resources
    • Statistical and knowledge-based methods
    • Machine learning for NLP
    • Sentiment analysis
  • Ontology
    • Ontology development and enrichment
    • Semantic harmonization and ontology alignment
    • Knowledge representation and reasoning
    • Formal approaches to semantics
  • Application based on natural language processing and ontology
    • Risk factor detection and predictive modeling for mental disorders, such as hospital readmission and suicide attempts
    • Early stage surveillance of mental disorders and suicidal events
    • Algorithmic phenotyping and cohort identification

Important Dates

Deadline for paper submission

April 9, 2018

First-round notification

May 9, 2018

Second-round submission

June 9, 2018

Second-round notification

July 9, 2018

Notification of acceptance

August 9, 2018

Submission guideline

Organizing Committee

  • Cui Tao, School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Center at Houston, USA
  • Jiang Bian, Biomedical Informatics, Health Outcomes & Policy, College of Medicine, University of Florida, USA
  • Yaoyun Zhang, School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Center at Houston, USA

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